Can My Child Be Charged as an Adult in Florida? 

 November 6, 2014

By  LMW Attorneys

Did you know that Florida leads the nation as the state with the highest number of minors charged as adults? According to the Human Rights Watch, 98% of children who end up in the adult court system do so because of the “direct file” statute.

This Florida statute allows prosecutors to move a minor’s case from juvenile court to adult court without consulting a judge. If your child has been accused of a crime, it is already a stressful and uncertain time, but if your child is tried as an adult, the situation could have devastating results.

Juveniles and the Florida Law

When a minor goes to trial, he or she has certain rights that adults on trial do not have. However, these rights are waived if the child is tried as an adult. In Florida, children are tried as adults frequently, especially if the accusation is for a serious crime. In Florida, prosecutors decide whether or not a minor will be tried as an adult.

Ultimately, there are numerous factors that will determine whether or not a child is tried as an adult and these could include: past offenses, the severity of the crime, their age, and more. While the decision varies as to whether or not try the minor as an adult, here are a few of the basic rules outlined in the Florida Statutes:

  • The child was 16 years old or older at the time of the crime. Charged with a violent crime and had already been adjudicated delinquent for a previous crime.
  • If a child has been charged with a “forcible felony” and was 16 years old or older at the time the crime was committed.
  • The child committed an offense where a vehicle was stolen and, while in possession of the stolen vehicle, he or she caused great bodily harm or death to another.
  • At the time of the crime the child was 16 years old or older and charged with murder, aggravated assault, aggravated battery, sexual battery, robbery, burglary, arson, kidnapping, etc.

What Happens if My Child is Tried as an Adult?

If a prosecutor decides to try your child as an adult, minor rights will be waived during the trial. Your child will be tried the same as an adult and will also face the same punishments an adult faces. Although it is a scary thought, a child who is tried as an adult can face intense realities, including life in prison.

When Should I Hire a Lawyer?

Because children are often tried as adults in Florida, it is important to have the appropriate legal representation to guide you through this trying time and to defend your child’s rights.

If your child has been accused of a crime, contact the experienced team at LMW Attorneys. Our skilled team of qualified attorneys will work diligently to defend your child’s rights. Don’t wait and give us a call today.